Even as lockdowns begin to wane across the globe, social distancing and public concern for which daily activities are and are not worth risking one’s health for will continue for the foreseeable future. This will undoubtedly lead to people shopping online more.
For fashion retailers, this presents an assortment of challenges as not only have people’s priorities and needs changed but, for many, shopping for clothing is an inherently in-person activity. Without the ability to try on and physically feel the clothes, many shoppers are going to have a much harder time deciding if they actually want to purchase an item. Delivering a seamless, intuitive online experience that mitigates pain points like this is now more important than ever.
Here are 6 ways fashion retailers can connect with customers online while physical shopping is on pause in order to drive higher conversion rates and more sales:
Create a Sense of Community
Living under lockdown and adhering to social distancing has left people feeling isolated and hungry for opportunities to connect with others who are experiencing similar frustrations. Fashion retailers can encourage a sense of community online by integrating user-generated content into their onsite experience. This could include, for example, highlighting social media posts or reviews from other shoppers about the purchases they have made.
Showcasing what other purchasers are doing with the product and how they personally express their feelings about it gives the consumers all of the power in terms of brand sentiments. Enabling people to empathize and share experiences online brings them closer together, which creates a true sense of community and is one of the most powerful things a brand can do.
Give Back and Support Local Communities
In times of crisis, such as a pandemic, brands that go out of their way to help the community are always the ones that receive help from the community in return. Individuals tend to have an even stronger affinity to causes that are local to them, which is why it’s a good idea for brands to be specific about the assistance they’re providing.
Geo-targeted pop-ups and banners are a good way to communicate local partnerships and initiatives – and even to give individuals the opportunity to donate to local causes when they make purchases.
Imagery Should Reflect Shoppers’ Current Reality
Merchants have been quick to update their pages with content explaining the impact of the virus; such as store closures and shipping delays. But now is also a good time to go beyond that and tailor the look and feel of your site to mirror everyone’s current circumstances more closely.
One valuable way of doing this is to use imagery and messaging that speaks to people’s current lifestyles. For example, research suggests that 27% fewer brands are using images or videos that show hugging, holding hands, shaking hands or touching in their social media ads.
Make Experiences Seamless and Relevant
People’s altered lifestyles have triggered new needs and shopping habits, making it even more important to give them an intuitive, seamless shopping journey. Fashion retailers can help to do this by rearranging category pages to display the types of products that are relevant to customers, delivering personalized homepage content for returning customers, or showcasing personalized product recommendations across pages to make the discovery phase more frictionless.
An example of this could be highlighting products that are most relevant for when people are staying home more often than usual on each of your category pages. Another example is pushing out of stock products to the bottom of category pages since inventory seems to be hectic in today’s economic environment.
Make Shipping and Returns Policies Crystal Clear
With fashion ecommerce stores currently seeing more visits from people who don’t regularly shop online for clothes, there’s an even greater need to provide reassurance on shipping and return policies.
Uncertainty around these areas can drive up cart abandonment, so, make information about available shipping methods, delivery estimates, and charges in fulfillment as visible as possible and ensure all policies are crystal clear. Use personalized messaging in pop-ups, banners, and on cart pages to ensure shoppers can’t miss the information.
Offer Flexible Financing Options
The pandemic hasn’t just disrupted people’s behavior and affected their health, it’s also greatly damaged any semblance of economic stability they had. As the globe collapses into an economic recession that appears to rival that of the Great Depression, consumers are beginning to stall on purchases and completely hold off from purchasing any non-essentials.
By offering flexible financing options, brands and retailers can lower the barrier to entry for conversion on their products. Plain and simple, consumers are financially stressed so showing them you understand that stress with offers that alleviate the financial burden of buying a product is immeasurably valuable.
Online fashion businesses are more likely to come through the crisis in a strong position if they can identify and adopt strategies that help them engage with customers in their current experience.
Jake Chatt is Head of Brand Marketing at Nosto